Back to Blogs
brain on blue background

How Do Appetite Suppressing Medications Affect Your Brain?

Alexander Singh
June 6, 2022

It has been demonstrated that the FDA-approved medication, liraglutide, aid obese patients in losing weight by reducing their hunger. However, until recently, it remained unclear where and how the medication behaves in the brain. 

A brand-new preclinical study from the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine demonstrates how the medicine liraglutide penetrates the blood-brain barrier to interact with the nucleus tractus solitaries (NTS), a part of the brainstem that regulates food consumption and energy expenditure. 

Liraglutide reduces hunger by interacting with glucagon-like peptide-1 receptors (GLP-1R) targets throughout the brain. This is the first study to demonstrate the critical function that a specific subset of GLP-1R-expressing neurons inside the brainstem's NTS play in transmitting these effects.

Understanding the Science

Each meal you eat has a lasting impact, with meals either being remembered as delectable and searched out again or as disgusting and to be avoided if we associate the flavor with gut malaise, often called a stomach ache.

Choosing which foods to seek out and which to avoid is so crucial to our welfare that the signals are organized in the brain's most basic regions, such as the brain stem. Additionally, this part of the brain helps determine when an individual is "full" and, therefore, should stop consuming more food.

Since the discovery of two interconnected systems, the leptin and melanocortin systems, which play crucial roles in regulating energy balance, scientists have concentrated on the hypothalamus to understand how and why people gain weight and the diseases that can be brought on by overeating and obesity.

A study that appears in the journal Nature Metabolism uses a method that provides an objective picture of the neurons engaged in examining the many brain circuits that converge in the brain stem to regulate feeding behavior.

The brain is the point of convergence for all the hypothalamus does. The brain stem plays a crucial role in the regulation of feeding because it combines data from the hypothalamus about nutritional requirements with information from the gut, such as if the stomach is bloated and also whether nutrients have been consumed, before sending it to the rhythmic process by integrating that regulate food intake.

We can forecast which group of neurons will be in charge of this or that function by combining all of the available information. For instance, a class of diabetic medications called GLP1 receptor agonists that can lower blood sugar and encourage weight loss targets several of these cell types.

There is a community of GLP1 neurons in the brain stem that, if activated, will prevent food intake but result in severe illness. However, there may be another population of GLP1 neurons that prevents eating without making you feel ill.

Which Medications Suppress Your Appetite? 

Drugs called appetite suppressants work by reducing hunger, which in turn aids in weight loss. Additionally, some supplements claim to be appetite suppressants, but because the FDA does not classify these goods as pharmaceuticals, it does not conduct pre-market reviews of them. The FDA has not approved any over-the-counter medications that decrease appetite.

Some more not-so-commonly used appetite suppressants are mentioned below, but they can only be used for 12 weeks and not more than that: 

  • Diethylpropion
  • Benzphetamine
  • Phendimetrazine
  • GLP-1 RAs

A class of medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) is used to treat type 2 diabetes. GLP-1 RAs have a great deal of success in reducing blood sugar levels. Additionally, several studies have revealed advantages for renal and heart health. Depending on how long they remain active in your body, GLP-1 RAs are categorized as either short-acting or long-acting.

Short-acting GLP-RAs stay and act the purpose in the body for less than a day. Commonly used short-acting GLP-RAs are:

  • Lixisenatide (Adlyxin)
  • Exenatide (Byetta)
  • Oral Semaglutide (Rybelsus)

While long-acting GLP-RAs stay in your body and act the purpose for up to one week. Commonly used long-acting GLP-RAs are: 

  • Exenatide extended-release (Bydureon)
  • Semaglutide (Ozempic)
  • Dulaglutide (Trucility)
  • Liraglutide (Victoza)
  • Phentermine

A prescription drug for weight loss is phentermine. The phentermine brands now available for standalone usage are Adipex-P, Lomaira, and Suprenza. It can also be found in combination with weight-loss drugs like Qsymia, which contains phentermine and topiramate. Suppose you are overweight with a BMI of more than or equal to 27 and have at least one weight-related disease, such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes. In that case, medical practitioners may also recommend it to you.

A medication known as anorectics, or appetite suppressant, includes phentermine. Phentermine aids in appetite suppression, which helps you consume fewer calories. This may result in weight loss over time. Phentermine is considered to work by raising neurotransmitter levels in your brain, while the specific mechanism by which it suppresses appetite is still unknown.


Phentermine and topiramate oral pills are occasionally used to aid in weight loss. But there are more prescribed ways to utilize topiramate. (Off-label use is when a medicine that has been approved for one use is used for another.)

It is not recommended to use topiramate oral tablets for weight loss. Additionally, they are free of phentermine. The brand-name prescription drug Qsymia includes both phentermine and topiramate extended-release. However, remember that topiramate oral tablets include topiramate with quick release. (Unlike instant forms, elongated formulations gradually release their active ingredient over time.)


People who are overweight or obese and have health issues related to their weight can use lorcaserin to help them lose weight and prevent gaining it again. A low-calorie diet and an exercise regimen must be utilized with lorcaserin. The drug lorcaserin belongs to the group of drugs known as serotonin receptor agonists. It functions by boosting sensations of fullness to encourage less food consumption.

It is unlikely that taking lorcaserin will help you if you do not lose a particular number of pounds in the first 12 weeks of your therapy. If you do not lose enough weight in the first 12 weeks of treatment, your doctor can advise you to discontinue taking lorcaserin. Only if you keep taking lorcaserin will it help you manage your weight. Without consulting your doctor, do not discontinue taking lorcaserin.


Metformin is effective for some persons with type 2 diabetes because your body cannot normally regulate your blood sugar level if you have type 2 diabetes. Metformin is not currently authorized for use in weight loss programs. However, metformin may aid in weight loss in certain individuals even though it is not recommended for this purpose. In actuality, this medication's negative effects could include weight reduction.

The precise mechanism through which metformin administration could cause weight loss is unknown. However, metformin shouldn't make you gain weight. Because the medication is not licensed for this usage, there is no suggested dosage of metformin for weight loss.

Other Factors That Impact Cognitive and Mental Health

While there are no sure signs and causes of cognitive and mental health impairment, there are a variety of reasons and medical conditions that greatly impact and enhance the cognitive and mental functioning of a body, such as: 

  • Obesity
  • High Blood pressure 
  • Smoking
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Low education level 
  • Decreased physical exercise
  • Lesser participation in socially and mentally 
  • Depression

Tips for Supporting a Healthy Mind

Maintaining your mental health is something you should do all the time, not just when you're feeling down, troubled, or upset. The way how we should prioritize our physical health and take care of our mental health is something we should consider equally. Here are some of the basic tips that can help you have a healthy mind: 

  • Regular exercise like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, and heavy exercise helps your mind to have numerous health benefits, for which it is important to exercise daily.
  • Consume a healthy diet, as essential fatty acids, nutrients, and minerals all work together to keep your mind and body healthy. 
  • Stay mentally active through mindful and brain-strengthening exercises and activities. 
  • Look after your health, as your organs and bodily functions should all work properly to enhance and improve your mental and physical health. 
  • Stay socially connected and engaged to look after your mental health and improve your overall mental wellness. 
  • Limit alcohol, smoking, and junk food consumption as they can greatly affect your heart functioning and decrease brain functioning simultaneously. 

Learn More With Alfie

As there is an appetite suppressing medicines to control your appetite and to manage your weight, people find them easy to use for effective weight loss. However, many people still require additional guidance and help for weight reduction, for which an effective online weight loss program like Alfie’s can help you. 

If you also require professional help, guidance, and support, contact us at for our professional doctors to guide you best.